Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cornish mining trails: Carn Brea, Dolcoath and Roskear

I'm squarely back in Cornwall for this long, lazy run around Carn Brea and some of the vast network of trails connecting the historic mine ruins surrounding the East end of Camborne.

The video was taken during the depths of January, and the greying weather adds to the sense of urban decay as the run progresses... an area that was once "the richest square mile on earth", now among the most deprived in the UK.

With so many huge, industrial buildings now overgrown and derelict, the area's clearly unrecognisable from even a hundred years ago.

That said, there's always something to see when you're out on a run. And even here, there were one or two surprises...

As promised in the video, some of the GPS trace for this run makes very little sense at all, because I took a break to play with my kids.

In truth, some of the trails around Brea awere a bit scrubby, and the back roads of Roskear didn't make for the most inspiring running. Carn Brea, though, seldom disappoints.

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Friday, 29 July 2011

A Little Writtle Run - further adventures in Essex

While I was up in Essex after Christmas, I took the oportunity to explore the delightful village of Writtle. (And it IS a village - not AT ALL a suburb of Chelmsford - on pain of gruesome, Wicker-man-like death...)

The point, aside from getting muddy for a few miles, was to show that most of Essex is lovely and rural and nice... not at all that stuff you see on "The Only Way is Essex".

Wherever you live, there's plenty to see if you go out, find a few footpaths and have a look - if you want to video it, go ahead. I don't mind embedding guest videos from YouTube... I'll even put some guidelines together, sooner or later.

Be warned: the following video contains really bad singing.

Once again, this route is manageably short - 4 miles or so - but there are lots of footpaths and things around there, so plenty of options for a longer or shorter run if you like.
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Monday, 18 July 2011

Trail Running in Essex: Danbury Common and Backwarden Nature Reserve

Again, to prove I don't just run in Cornwall...

A few days after Christmas we journeyed "up country", and I took the opportunity to meet up with fantastic Fetchie Nellers (Neil in real life) for a bit of a jaunt around Danbury Common and Backwarden Nature Reserve.

It was a bit of a foggy morning, and we had a few issues actually finding the common amid all the roads (good going since it's the biggest area of public land of its kind for quite some distance), but good fun was had...

...not least when we found the common's designated mountain bike trails. I mean, who needs bikes really?

Meanwhile, I think we may have uncovered a strange local fascination with the former lead singer of R&B boyband legends Another Level...

As you can see, we seemed to spend more time on the roads around the common than actually on it... and strangely kept passing the same pub, over and over again...

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Christmas Day run: Skinner's Bottom, Mount Hawke and Menagissey

(I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post. Ironically, this run took place the very next day...)

I do like to run on Christmas Day, when I can.

Somehow, taking a little time out for a few miles before lunch makes the whole thing seem that much more special.

(I must confess, I also like the way people look at you like you're mental).

Christmas morning 2010 was lovely - bright, sunny and cold, with just the remnants of the week's snow. I got out for a teeny little run, exploring paths and roads around Skinner's Bottom, Mount Hawke, Manor Parsley and Menagissey (NOT Mevagissey).

So... yes, OK. I know it's July. But Merry Christmas anyway!

(I won't leave it so long before the next video. I promise.)

As you can see, this one was a pleasant little figure-of-eight. Much of it was on the road (I didn't have time to get too lost!) but the initial section of trail/bridleway was very nice indeed.

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Thursday, 31 March 2011

Carn Brea at Christmas

(After the brief departure to explore the Duchy 20 and Marathon course, we return to chronological order, with this run from Christmas Eve 2010...)

After returning from New York - and getting clearance to run from the Doctor - I continued my rehabilitation with this short outing on Carn Brea.

(I do like to run up Carn Brea at Christmas, if I'm at home. This time, Christmas Eve was the closest I could get).

Considering that a run on the Carn in the snow had been one of my main inspirations for this site, I was disappointed that my illness had cost me the chance to run in the best/worst of the weather, but there was at least still a token bit of the white stuff around!

Oh, and sorry about the silly hat.

As you can see, it was only a titchy little run. And in truth, I'd recommend you find a slightly different route back down...

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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Duchy 20 & Duchy Marathon: a tour of the course

Here's a quick guide to what you can expect - including a couple of sneaky hills they don't tell you about!

In a brief departure from my normal, chronological running blogs, I've hastily compiled a video to help competitors in the Duchy Marathon and accompanying Duchy 20 miler.

Please bear in mind that I wasn't able to compete last year, and haven't paid close attention to the course details, so this is based upon my recollection of the Duchy 20 course from 2009 - I'm pretty sure it's accurate to that, and if there have been any major changes, nobody's told me!

*** Sod's Law alert! I've since checked, and they HAVE made a small change this year, so the final mile takes a different route. The finish is in the same place, though. ***

If you don't know the course, hopefully this will give you some idea of what to expect... although, in truth, the character of this race is all about the weather. With a long, very exposed clifftop section, any change in the wind, rain (or - heaven help us - hail) will make a real difference.

I run these cliffs a lot (although usually the footpath along the cliff's edge), and I can tell you: on one day you can be moseying along enjoying the stunning sea view... and on another, hardened marathoners are crying for their mummies. And, with the race in March, the weather could be literally anything (and that's all part of the fun).

If you're taking part - good luck, I'll see you there (assuming my gammy shin clears up...).

As you can see from the map below, I haven't run the entire Marathon course - it follows the big clifftop loop twice, so there would be no point in showing you all of that. Instead, I've stuck mostly to the 20-mile route...  with the exception of the little out-and-back detour around 13.5 miles. Trust me: there aren't any real surprises there.
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Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Muppet takes Manhattan!

After my last video (the JW Ultra), things didn't go entirely to plan, running-wise.

A nasty cough descended, and put the kibosh on my preparations for the Amsterdam Marathon in October.

I attempted the marathon anyway (what an amazing event - pity about my time), and made my lungs far, far worse... putting me out of action until December.

But some runs, you just HAVE to do. And I'd never have forgiven myself if I hadn't made the most of THIS particular opportunity when it came along.

The video, I think, is pretty much self-explanatory.

Here's the mapping, such as it is.

It took forever for my Garmin to pick up satellite signal, so you join me after 1.5 miles or so (it's actually a circular run - I started by running straight up 8th Avenue, along the edge of Hell's Kitchen, to Columbus Circle).

After I leave Central Park, the trace gets a bit wibbly (thrown off by all the skyscrapers - fair enough!) but you can pretty much make it out: 7th Avenue past Carnegie Hall, then one block over to Broadway, which I follow all the way to Times Square, then back onto 7th to Macy's at 34th Street, and straight from there to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden on 8th.

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Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The JW Ultra: from Stratford-upon-Avon to Bourneville

And just to prove that I don't ONLY run in Cornwall...

In September I had my first experience of an ultramarathon: the JW Ultra, which runs along canal towpaths for 30 miles or so, from Stratford-upon-Avon to Bourneville, Birmingham.

It was a smashing race. Brilliant scenery for the most part (the breathtaking Edstone Aquaduct in particular), and a wonderful, welcoming atmosphere throughout. An amazing introduction to Ultra running... so good, in fact, that I've already entered my second Ultra! (Eeek...). It'll have a lot to live up to.

I was running with the inestimable Martyn (AKA 2 Flat Feet) - at least for the first 20 miles, anyway. After that, things got a bit tricky, as the video will show.

(What video there is... it's not the easiest using the camera during a race - even an event as friendly and laidback as this - so I've supplemented the footage with pictures from my missus, and also The Race Photographer - in a an effort to tell the whole story).

In summary, though: if you're thinking of trying an Ultra... do it. You'll have a great time, and meet some brilliant people. In fact, do the JW. It's the best introduction to the sport that I could think of.

Here's the route. I'd warmly recommend the first 20 miles to anybody (the section closest to Birmingham is maybe a bit of an acquired taste...)
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Thursday, 3 February 2011

Coasters GB Relay on the Roseland: Portloe to Portscatho

"Just a bunch of people running around the Great British coastline..."

That's how Coasters GB described their mammoth attempt to get the iconic "Barry the Baton" around all 4,400 miles or so of the coast path.

Runners of all abilities were welcome - pace irrelevant, just turn up, join in, and become part of the fun. A huge, joint effort... I just had to have a go.

While it would have been nice to escort Barry round one of my usual favourite runs, the schedule revealed a few gaps on the Roseland, so I jumped at the chance to fill a conspicuous gap in my knowledge of Cornwall, and finally get to know a place I'd heard such a lot about.

As ever, following our belowed South West coast path wasn't quite as straightforward as I'd hoped... but Barry and I certainly had a lot of fun.

Here's the evidence...

...So, I had a few small detours from the route, as the map will show - but nothing too serious. I hope.
*Waits for the Coasters peope to declare I've ruined the whole thing...*

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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Due South? Running from Carn Brea to Kynance Cove

Apologies (again) for the lack of updates: this one's a bit of an epic, and took forever to edit.

The plan for this run was simple: starting at Carn Brea, run as close as possible to South, for four hours, or as long as my little legs would carry me, using footpaths and bridleways to avoid major roads.

On the map, it looked a cinch... but it didn't quite work out like that and all the way from Four Lanes, through Burras to Trenear, I found myself dicing with the Sunday morning traffic on the twisty B3297. It all got a bit scary, and this stretch is definitely NOT RECOMMENDED as a running route.

From Trenear, I picked up a very pleasant (if somewhat ambiguously signposted) bridleway, along the River Cober towards Coverack Bridges and - although I got a bit lost - things began to get a good deal more enjoyable.

See for yourself:

However, from Lowertown onwards, down though Helston, the Loe and onto the Lizard Peninsula, things started to change, and this was to become one of my most memorable runs ever.

First and foremost for its magnificent and changing scenery, and later... well, I won't spoil it. Here's the video:

The map for the whole run is here... and although I'd really only recommend the bit from Lowertown onwards, I would recommend ANYTHING from that section very highly indeed.
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